Israel & Palestine

Thursday, January 6, 2005

On January 9, Palestinians living in the occupied territories will elect the president of the Palestinian Authority. At the end of January the Iraqis living under the Anglo-American imperialist occupation will elect a new puppet government. In the present conditions that actually exist in both countries the idea that these elections will somehow be “free and fair” is somewhat of a joke, and a rather bad one at that.

Ms. Tali Fahima, a peace activist from Kiryat-Gat suspected of contacting the leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, Zakariya Zbeide, was arrested on August 8, 2004, and turned over to the GSS. The interrogation methods used against her include: sleep deprivation, food deprivation, painful handcuffing to a chair for long periods and sexual harassment.

The Sharon government is held together by a shaky coalition of parties. In the past period some have left, bringing his government close to collapse. Now Labour has come to the rescue. With it it brings the leadership of the Histadrut, the trade union federation. It is an attempt to hold back the inevitable explosion of class struggle which will come in the next period.

We have just received this latest update on the situation Tali Fahima is facing in an Israeli jail. It confirms what we said back in September. It shows how the Israeli state deals with anyone – even if they are Jewish – who dares to take up the plight of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in a serious manner.

Yesterday marked a grim anniversary for the Palestinian people. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan calling for the creation of two States, one Jewish and the other Arab. Since then there has not been peace between the two people. Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem comments.

Following the announcement regarding the selection of the new leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, the government of Israel signalled a possible shift in policy toward the Authority. The new PA leadership seems keen to collaborate with Sharon. The only thing this proves is that those who in the past promised to liberate Palestine through the tactics of guerrilla war, which turned into terrorism, are ready to sell out.

After a week in hospital, lying in a coma and suffering from a brain haemorrhage, President of the Palestinian National Authority Yasser Arafat has finally died. Yossi Schwartz, writing from Jerusalem, comments on his career.

Arafat is seriously ill. His days are clearly numbered now. Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem explains how this will affect the balance of forces within the Fatah movement and how this will open up more room for Hamas. It also marks the beginning of a new period in which Hamas will be called on to stabilise the situation, thus exposing itself before the Palestinian masses.

Anyone who examines the situation of the Middle East, not in each country separately but as a whole, must come to the conclusion that the days of social and economic stability are definitely over. Instead of economic stability we have crisis. Instead of peace we are caught in the crossfire between the imperialists’ state terror and the individual terror of the Islamic fundamentalists.

This is the seventh day of “Operation Days of Penitence” that has killed at least 70 Palestinians, many of them women and children. This is the largest operation in the Gaza Strip in the four years since the beginning of this Intifada.

A general strike in the public sector in Israel has been called in protest against the non-payment of wages and the proposed 2005 budget cuts. The strike is affecting all government ministries, municipal authorities, state-owned companies and transportation, including the national airline El Al. Refuse collection workers, traffic wardens, dockworkers, railway, telecom, electricity and hospital workers are also involved. Once again, it reflects the serious class divide that is opening up in Israeli society.

In spite of only having minority support in the Knesset, Sharon holds on to power. This is because both the left and the right continue to support him, for they cannot offer an alternative. That alternative can only come from the working class.

We recently received this report, which shows how the Israeli state deals with anyone - even if they are Jewish - who dares to take up the plight of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in a serious manner. Tali Fahima is being held without any charges, with her arrest being extended continuously.

Tuesday's bomb attacks in Be'er Sheva could not have come at a better time for Sharon. He immediately used them to distract attention away from a few problems he was having at the beginning of the week. But why has Hamas suddenly returned to this kind of attack? Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem explains.

The right-wing Sharon government’s construction of the ‘security fence’ continues unabated. Despite the ruling of the International Court of Jurists, despite the UN General Assembly’s resolution, despite breaching Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, despite world public opinion, the Zionist state is using the current international balance of forces to maximise its dominance over the Palestinians. For despite token protests that are meant for public consumption, US imperialism is fully backing its closest ally in the world. And all that the other imperialist powers are willing to offer are verbal ‘concerns’ and diplomatic ‘protests’ against the most vicious and aggressive moves

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House demolitions in the Occupied Territories…

The suffering of the Palestinian people is assuming tremendous dimensions. Not only have they been denied a homeland for over half a century, forced to live in refugee camps, but now they are also facing a second expulsion. The Israeli army regularly appears before the houses of Palestinians and within a moment’s notice declare that they are going to bulldoze them.

Yesterday (27.5.2004), the "Haaretz" informed us of what our readers knew weeks ago. Namely that Dahlan [The former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security forces in the Gaza Strip] is working with Sharon to establish an Israeli governed council once Israel withdraws from Gaza, that the PA and Hamas leadership accept it and the rulers of the Arab ruling class have given it its blessings. When we wrote shortly after Rantisi's assassination that this was the plan I assume that some of our readers may have been sceptical. Yet this is exactly what the Israeli bourgeoisie's mouthpiece is confirming:

In the last few days the masses in many parts of the Middle East have been pouring out onto the streets in protest against the murder of civilians in Iraq and Gaza. They have been coming out emboldened by the feeling that the killing machine of the occupying armies in Iraq and Gaza can be defeated. Yossi Schwartz, just returned from one of these protests in Rafah (Gaza) looks at the effects throughout the Middle East and in particular in Israel.